Top seeds entered the fray today at the HIC PRO at Sunset Beach, led by world No. 19 Fred Patacchia (HAW). Just home from the European leg of the Samsung Galaxy ASP World Tour, Patacchia, 31, sees the HIC PRO as a golden opportunity to fine tune equipment, size up the talent, and prepare for the upcoming Vans Triple Crown of Surfing series, for which this event is the official qualifier.

Patacchia (Sunset Beach) was up against old friend and former touring pro Joel Centeio (Haleiwa) in their Round 3 clash. Great waves in the 4- to 6-foot range provided plenty of scoring opportunity for both. Centeio got the upper hand in the exchange, but Patacchia was feeling good and both advanced through.

"HIC's an important event," said Patacchia. "We get to practice on our bigger boards out here at Sunset. Today we're riding medium sized boards which is a good warmup for Haleiwa. It's supposed to get bigger this weekend so we'll be on 7'0"s, it's just a great warmup. Some of the guys we'll be surfing against (in the Triple Crown) are out here, also young up and comers from Hawaii, Australia, and Brazil. Its good to go up against them and see what you've got, see how you stack up."

In contrast to Patacchia, Kauai's Evan Valiere, 31, isn't a touring pro and will rely on a solid performance here at the HIC Pro and his local ASP Hawaii ranking to qualify for the Vans Triple Crown. Valiere is a power surfer with a broad spectrum of talent that makes him a threat at any location, but especially at Sunset and Pipeline. He posted the highest single wave score today: 9.1 out of 10.

"I'd absolutely love to win the Triple Crown," said Valiere. "I think that would be the best thing I could imagine. That's what I'm here for and it's really exciting. Given the nature of surfing it's really hard to get every heat after heat to go your way but it's a fun game. You've got to know your surfboard, and the most important thing is the timing on the wave. That's something that I think really suits my style and my rhythm... the timing of this wave."

Other standout performers today were Pancho Sullivan, 41, (Sunset Beach), who posted the highest 2-wave heat score of 14.53 out of 20. Koa Smith (Kauai); Maui's Billy Kemper and Ian Walsh; Australia's Cody Robinson; and Keoni Yan (Tahiti).

Unexpected eliminations included that of Kamalei Alexander (Kauai); former HIC PRO champion Myles Padaca; and big wave charger Koa Rothman (Sunset Beach).

Organizers will take a look at conditions first light tomorrow to decide if competition will continue with the final day of action. The HIC PRO has until November 10 to conclude.

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